There is small playground that you can see from our house. We walked over before lunch and I was struck by how the girls have grown physically in this 8 weeks. I was also delighted that somehow they were able to manage to leave without throwing any kind of tantrums. I said, Ok girls, pick one more thing to do before we go. Little Bean smiled slyly and said, I just want to do one more swing. I just want to do two more slides. But when Big Sister and I headed toward to the exit, she came running.
Two friends stopped by this afternoon to try my most recent ice cream flavors (raspberry chocolate swirl and chocolate chip cookie dough) and to catch up. They came through the garden gate instead of the front door. We ate ice cream on the deck in the shade. We maintained our distance and no one came inside but it was almost like any other summer-ish day. I let my mind wander about the phrase new normal and if meetings like this will be part of it. (It sure would take the pressure off of having to keep the house clean for guests. Clean for guests is a totally different coordinated effort than clean for just us.)
My mind wandered further and I remembered a time when we were walking home with friends and got caught in a storm. We sheltered under the eaves of a roof but we were getting really wet and the kids were scared. Some people saw us huddling there and whistled, motioning for us to come and wait out the storm in their home. We made a run for it and they welcomed us. It was such an unexpected kindness from two strangers and I can’t help but wonder if because of this virus, kindnesses like that are a thing of the past.
Earlier today I was in the kitchen working on the ice cream when Big Sister came in complaining that Little Bean didn’t want to play with her. Now, Big Sister usually runs the show between the two of them and I can imagine that for Little Bean it gets pretty tiresome being bossed around the whole day– even by someone you worship.
All of the sudden, Big Sister complained, she just started looking at a book. I was talking to her and she didn’t even say anything back to me. So I came down here. She’s still up there just looking at her books. It was the second time today that I heard disappointment in her voice when Little Bean didn’t want to play. Rejection of any kind from her little sister is something totally new. But secretly I was glad to hear that Little Bean asserted herself in some way or another.
Since their births, I have always thought about the fact that each new thing is something they have never experienced before. When they were newborns it was things like a cough or a sneeze. Imagine what it would feel like for every small change to be monumental, for every pain to feel never ending, for a pang of hunger seem like death sentence.
It’s fascinating how we grow in experience and associations from the time we are born. As we grow we learn that feelings are just feelings and that they pass. We learn that it’s ok for people to disagree with us. We learn that change is constant. We learned that most things that feel terrible are not going to kill us.
We learn that we will be fine when our siblings don’t want to play with us. We learn that we don’t need to fear the unknown– we just need to tread slowly, be observant and collect good tools. We need critical thinking and positivity. And we need our stories. The ones that tell us who we are and the ones that remind us of the goodness in others.
So come to think of it I don’t think that fear of the Corona virus is going to interfere with the kindness of strangers. I think although we are dealing with something unprecedented, although there is no model for navigating the situation, the power of the human spirit and everything life has already taught us will prevail. Whatever happens, we are going to be ok.